benefit greatly if gender impact were considered as one criterion among many

Benefit greatly if gender impact were considered as

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benefit greatly if “gender impact” were considered as one criterion among many considered by the party during the redistricting process. But the Democratic legislators suggested that the key to including gender impact in redistricting debates would be to have women legislators serve on the influential redistricting committees and participate in the deal-making while their votes are in demand. Participants agreed that identifying large numbers of viable women candidates posed a substantial challenge in the short run. Developing a recruitment pool of women candidates is a time-consuming project. Particularly in recent years as election costs have increased and political cynicism has grown, many women who might be appealing candidates have been reluctant to run. Finding interested potential candidates and ensuring that they have the contacts, visibility and resources they need to win takes time and effort. According to conference participants, the challenge of identifying viable women candidates has been taken up by women’s organizations and committed party women more often than by the parties themselves. In Michigan, for example, women undertook active efforts to identify, recruit and support women candidates to replace those being term-limited out. The Michigan Women’s Political Caucus, with additional support from the Michigan Women’s Campaign Fund, hired a former legislator to work on recruitment, and she identified as many as 60 potential candidates. Legislators being term-limited out were asked for their recommendations of potential candidates, and organizations around the state were asked for suggestions. While some of the candidates they recruited did win, some were discouraged by their parties from running, and others lost in primaries. From this experience, the Michigan women determined that they needed to target winnable seats for each party, begin developing potential candidates as much as three years in advance, and use a one-on-one process to recruit the strongest possible candidates. Other states used different mechanisms to attract and support women candidates. Ohio Democrats turned to WEDO (Women Elected Democratic Officials), which started as a way to help women get to know local officials in preparation for statewide races, but developed into a recruitment tool. Party structures, such as Florida’s Federation of Republican Women, recruited, trained and worked for women candidates. Democratic women and the Democrat Hispanic Caucus in Florida joined forces to find and support Latinas to run for the legislature in key districts. In California, well-qualified Democratic women candidates — assemblywomen who had been term limited out of their seats — were ready to run for the state senate but needed support. Senator Dede Alpert, working with both male and female leaders, created the Democratic Women Leaders Fund, which raised more than $350,000 to bring more women into California’s senate, concentrating on the candidates in greatest need. Other candidates
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  • Fall '15
  • United States Senate, United States House of Representatives

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